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Sources weigh in on Apple\'s MacBook Pro and iBook plans

Apple Computer's new MacBook Pro line of laptops simply represents a re-branding of its previous PowerBook G4 line and will not affect the company's consumer iBook offerings, which will see their own share of updates in the coming months, sources have told AppleInsider.

Sources familiar with the company's Intel plans say the Mac-maker will continue to build on the MacBook Pro product line later this year with the addition of new models, but will first introduce a fresh wave of iBook consumer laptops in the second calendar quarter.

Come April or May, sources maintain that Apple will revamp its iBook line with a new eye-catching industrial design built around a 13-inch widescreen display and low-end Intel Yonah processor. The new iBooks are also expected to be slimmer than their predecessors, but retain robust enclosures that are ideal for education markets.

At this time, it's likely that Apple may also choose to re-brand its iBooks under a different name. As part of its transition to Intel chips, sources say Apple wants to display its "Mac" trademark more prominently on its personal computers in an effort to both leverage and better distinguish the Mac brand.

Inline with speculation, sources agree that renaming the iBook to "MacBook" would make the most logical sense. This would allow Apple to distinguish is consumer (MacBook) and professional (MacBook Pro) laptops with the "Pro" identifier. However, this remains pure speculation at this time.

Although both the iMac and 15-inch MacBook Pro reportedly entered into a design freeze during the same week of December, Apple has announced that the MacBook Pro won't begin shipping until next month, while the iMac is readily available.

Consumers looking to adopt a new MacBook Pro should not fret, however, as sources say the shipping delay stems almost completely from the company's accelerated transition scheduled and lack of production quality parts — such as Intel's new Core Duo processors — and not technological issues.

According to the first set of shipping estimates, Apple is looking to begin delivering the first MacBook Pro orders on or after February 7th.